The Cake Slice Bakers chose a perfect cake this month, Pina Colada cake, a great choice for the start of the summer. The cake consists of a brown sugar cake, doused in rum and sandwiched together with a pineapple and lime compote/jam and covered with a fluffy coconut buttercream. I topped my cake off with some twists of mango and some fresh passion fruit to give it that extra tropical appearance and flavour.
The cake was meant to be baked in nine inch tins but I decided to do something a little different by halving the recipe, baking it in a swiss roll tin and then making it into a rectangle cake. The cake rose well and so it turned out wonderfully sky high.
The cake had a slight caramel flavour to it thanks to the brown sugar, while buttermilk kept it very tender and light. I hardly ever bake with buttermilk, but it always produces such good results that I really must use it more often. I couldn’t find crushed pineapple so I used a can of pineapple pieces and attempted to mash it, although rather unsuccessfully (I’ll blend it next time) so my filling stayed rather chunky, but this meant you got a big hit of zesty tropical pineapple every few bites. The coconut flavour in the buttercream really shone through and created a cloud of sweet smelling coconut that wafted around the cake, drawing you to it if you happened to wander past. It really made me think of sun, golden sandy beaches and palm trees – sigh, if only. The rum used to soak the layers worked with the other flavours wonderfully, creating a taste of topical holidays in every bite.
Pina Colada Cake
(Recipe from Sky High Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes by Alisa Huntsman and Peter Wynne)
Brown Sugar Cake
400g American cake flour (or 320g plain flour with 80g cornflour)
1¾ tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
450g light brown sugar
200g unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 180C. Butter and line the base of three 9inch cake pans. Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl. Whisk gently to combine. Add the brown sugar, butter and 325ml of the buttermilk to the dry ingredients. With the mixer on low blend to incorporate. Raise the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.
Whisk the eggs with the remaining 55ml buttermilk and the vanilla and add to the batter in 3 additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl well and beating only long enough to incorporate between additions. Divide the batter between the 3 pans.
Bake for 25-28 minutes or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Let the layers cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire racks, carefully peel off the paper and allow to cool completely.
For the Pineapple Filling
560g canned crushed pineapple (no added sugar)
225g caster sugar
60ml freshly squeezed lime juice (about 2 limes)
One inch piece of vanilla bean split in half
Combine the pineapple, sugar and lime juice in a pan. Scrape the vanilla seeds into the pan too. Warm over a medium-low heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar, 2 to 3 minutes.
Raise the het to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the juices have almost completely evaporated and its turned jam-like in consistency. Let the filling cool completely before using. (Can be made a day in advance and refrigerated) (If you can’t find crushed pineapple blend a can of pineapple into small pieces)
3 eggs whites
225g caster sugar
250g unsalted butter, at room temperature
150ml unsweetened coconut milk
1½ tsp coconut extract
Put the eggs whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whip attachment so they are ready to go.
Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and place over a medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Bring to the boil and cook without stirring until the syrup reaches the sold boil stage on a sugar thermometer, around 120C.
Beat the egg whites briefly at medium speed. Slowly add the hot syrup in a thin stream, being careful to avoid the beaters. Continue to whip until the meringue has cooled to body temperature.
With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the butter, several tablespoons at a time and continue to beat until a smooth fluffy frosting forms.
Add the coconut milk in several additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl well after each addition. Add the coconut extract and mix until smooth.
9 tbsp rum – light, amber or dark
Coconut flakes and thin slices of pineapple
Place one layer flat side up on a cake stand. Sprinkle 3 tbsp rum over the cake. Spread half of the pineapple filling over the layer, leaving a small gap around the edge. Add the second layer, sprinkle with more rum and cover with the remaining pineapple filling.
Top with the third layer and sprinkle with the remaining rum. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the coconut buttercream.
Decorate with some thin shreds of coconut and slices of pineapple if wished.
Makes one 9inch triple layer cake